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Use a vehicle maintenance log to keep your car in good shape

Discover three tips on how to establish an effective vehicle maintenance schedule, and learn about what’s inspected, repaired, or replaced during a regular vehicle checkup. Improve your maintenance times and results by using Lumiform’s free digital checklists and templates.

What Is a Vehicle Maintenance Log?

It is often said preventative medicine is the best type of medicine—mainly because it eliminates the need for it.

So why wouldn’t you care for your vehicle in the same way as you would your body?

It is also often said that what’s done cannot be undone—meaning it’s easy to take the toothpaste out of the tube, but try putting it back in.

The same can be said about vehicle maintenance. Once you blow a tire after neglecting to do regular, advisable maintenance, and it careens into oncoming traffic and totals your car, the damage is done. And to fix that damage often cost more than the worth of the car itself.

Don’t try to put the toothpaste back into the tube—get a motor vehicle inspection before your car goes kaput.

These inspections look at mechanical and electrical systems integral to the vehicle’s integrity so that it may continue to safely transport its driver from point A to point B.

A motor vehicle maintenance log, then, documents the condition, repair, and scheduled work performed on an individual vehicle. It is used by commercial fleet owners, from small businesses to large transportation companies, for preventive maintenance, safety, and record keeping.

This article covers:

1. Tips for an effective automotive maintenance log

2. Things to look for during a vehicle inspection

3. How often a vehicle needs to be inspected

4. Benefits of the Lumiform app

red covertible mercedes on the car hydraulic lift for maintenance

What Are 3 Tips for an Effective Vehicle Maintenanc Schedule?

An effective vehicle maintenance record-keeping program helps businesses reduce critical downtime, promote driver safety, manage maintenance costs, and support insurance claims. Here are 3 tips to help your business implement an effective vehicle maintenance program:

1. Record Key Data

Give important vehicle details such as car make and model, insurance information, and vehicle identification number to the mechanic or inspector responsible for working on your car. Document all inspections, maintenance, and repairs in detail by including the person who performed them, the date they were completed, and the mileage. You can also set reminders such as when to check the brakes or replace the air filters. If a vehicle is involved in an accident, note any damage, repair costs, and replacement parts that were needed.

2. Schedule Periodic Maintenance

Planning inspections is important to ensure that no information that affects vehicle safety is neglected. Create a register of all vehicles in your fleet and a maintenance schedule for each vehicle, including the frequency of inspections and the person in charge of the inspection. Notify the appropriate clerks.

3. Create Visuals

With the help of visuals, you can easily prove the condition of each vehicle prior to their maintenance. This is especially useful for necessary repair work and cost estimates, as well as insurance claims in the case of poor maintenance. Make sure that all photos related to the specific vehicle and the time of inspection are included in the insurance claim.

What Is Checked During a Vehicle Mainentance Inspection?

Another relevant English idiom is “it’s better to be safe than sorry.” This stands true in almost every facet of life, especially when it comes to preserving the life of a vehicle and that of its passengers.

Mechanical complications that could have been ordinarily discovered in an inspection can have life-threatening consequences. For instance, a problem with a faulty steering system—normally caught in an annual inspection — could cause the driver to lose control and perish in a fatal, yet totally preventable, collision. That’s why it’s so important to keep all your vehicles up to date on their inspections.

Here’s a list of system checks:

  • Engine hour meter
  • Hubmeter
  • Body
  • Fuel leaks
  • Coolant leak
  • Belts
  • Oil leak
  • Grease leak
  • Cab, door, windows
  • Engine condition
  • Oil level
  • Coolant level
  • Transmission fluid
  • Cab general condition
  • Gauges
  • Warning indicators
  • Windshield wiper
  • Seat belts
  • Heater
  • Defroster
  • Mirrors
  • Steering
  • Parking breaks
  • Horn
  • Spare fuses
  • clutch/transmission
  • Service breaks
  • Emergency breaks
  • Triangles
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Hard hat
  • Radio
  • Exterior condition
  • Wheels
  • Suspension
  • Tires
  • light/turn signals
  • Brakes
  • Exhaust
  • Mudflaps
  • Light line
  • wheels/rims/lugs
  • Reflectors
  • Batteries
  • Air line
  • Alignment
  • Shocks
  • Sturts
  • Power steering
  • Belts
  • Spark plugs

During an inspection, a mechanic will also look for signs of wear and tear and the general overall condition of a vehicle. Are there any leaks? Does any fluid or oil need to be replaced? What condition are the brake pads in? are all questions that might show up on a vehicle maintenance checklist. Even small issues that don’t seem like a big deal, like replacing worn-out windshield wipers, can mean the matter of life and death, so it’s important that these inspections are taken seriously.

How Often Does My Vechicle Need to be Inspected?

Because the United States is a federal democracy, some decisions are left up to the state. It just so happens that the issue of vehicle inspections is under individual state jurisdiction, meaning whether your vehicle requires a yearly inspection will vary based on where you live.

Most states, however, need at least a vehicle emissions inspection ever since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1990. Coincidently, this is more of a concern in cities where air pollution needs to be kept under a PM2.5 concentration (according to the World Health Administration) to limit the effects of climate change and respiratory-related health risks.

These states include:

  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

mechanic maintains vehicle according to maintenance schedule

Advantages of a Digital Solution for Vehicle Maintenance Logs

Lumiform is a web-based inspection software that provides companies with more than one template for the automotive maintenance schedule and general maintenance checklists.

Mobile Inspections

  • Paperless vehicle inspections and logs via any mobile device (works offline)
  • Photo evidence of defects means less time spent writing
  • No more paperwork or emails – all inspections are automatically saved online

Cloud-based record-keeping

  • Online dashboard for easy access to all vehicle maintenance logs
  • Easy export of all reports in PDF or Word format
  • Share vehicle/car maintenance reports in real time

Vehicle Maintenance Schedule Software

  • Get automatic reminders for commercial vehicle maintenance schedules and other assigned tasks
  • Online scheduling features: Keep track of all inspections

To get you started with digital documentation, we’ve compiled the best vehicle maintenance templates that you can download and customize for free

Try Lumiform for free
car workshop with vehicles serviced according to a maintenance plan
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